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Don't Preach A Watered Down Gospel

Barbara Carneiro - Tuesday, February 05, 2013

We live in such a secular society today and many churches are facing problems because their membership has dropped in numbers so significantly. A lot of pastors feel they have to adapt to the times in order to reach those who have no interest in attending church on a regular basis. The feeling in many congregations is that in order to gain more members they have to cater to the secular needs of the people. In Matthew 4:19, Jesus told his disciples, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.“ However when he said that to his disciples, I’m sure he never intended for Christians to go to church to be entertained or to hear a watered down version of the gospel.

There are some very effective ways of preaching the gospel message, but there are some parts of that message that people don’t want to hear. The mistake that a lot of pastors make is that they are so intent on getting new members in their churches that they are preaching a message that is designed to never offend anyone. By preaching a positive gospel all the time, the members of their congregations are getting false ideas about what the gospel really is.

Jesus’ death provided a way to reconcile us to God if we are willing to receive Him. If we only hear a watered down version of the gospel that doesn’t address sin, we aren’t learning that all sin threatens to separate us from God and we must repent of our sins as part of accepting Christ. Hearing a version of the gospel that doesn’t address sin, does not help us to grow as Christians.

As uncomfortable as it may make some people, real Christian teaching needs to address victory over sin and living in the light. It should never be stripped down to a positive thinking message with a Christian emphasis. Transformation in Christ must be a part of living a Christian life.

The problem with some people seems to be that they don’t feel they need to be saved and when they hear the message in church that they are perfect the way they are, they don’t feel they have to live as Christians. No one should make the claim that they don’t need to be saved, because willful rejection of Christ results in eternal death. Grace is a gift that must be received.

The message for anyone who leads a congregation is that you must be bold enough to preach the whole gospel, even if it makes people uncomfortable. When some gets those feelings, they realize that there is a lot of room for them to grow as Christians. Preach the whole gospel all the time, and if you aren’t bold enough to do that, pray for guidance from God until you are.

Franchise vs Frustrated - Successful Entrepreneur Life Stories

Barbara Carneiro - Friday, February 01, 2013
Although creating your own business can be very rewarding financially and spiritually, it is often difficult to get started. For many people there are funding issues, as well as whether to have a brick and mortar store if they are getting into retail, or having an online presence. There is also the question of how to market your business in such a way that you stand out from the competition. It’s the same case for Christian entrepreneurs who are starting faith-based businesses. Fortunately for new Christian business owners, there are those who are willing to share their secrets of success and how their faith in God helped them to succeed.

Scott Osborne and his wife were shopping for greeting cards in a local store and noticed how many of the messages were adult-oriented and offensive. They were troubled by the lack of family-friendly messages on the cards and wondered what they could do so that consumers had access to cards that were oriented toward families. Their belief was that people are sending greeting cards less today because of schedules which don’t allow them to shop for cards, the prices were getting too high, and most especially that many of the messages were offensive.

Osborne and his wife started a unique service in which customers can find cards online which are reasonably priced. Their company, Sent For Him, prints and mails the cards. His belief is that anyone who is starting a faith-based business should pray for guidance when making business decisions. He prays about the cards he is creating and keeps a journal about his faith-based journey as an entrepreneur. He prays about every aspect of his business, and when something unexpected happens, he says he receives a blessing afterward.

Another of the most successful Christian entrepreneurs in the country is David Green, founder of Hobby Lobby, the huge retail chain of crafts stores, based in Oklahoma City. David Green wanted to build his business based on Christian principles and teachings form the Bible. The company was founded in 1972, and Green struggled for years to make his business a success. He was eventually able to expand the business so he now owns 154 stores scattered around 41 states. Much of the music piped into the stores during business hours is a mixture of contemporary and Christian music. The stores are open six days a week, but are always closed on Sundays for employees to attend church and spend time with their families.

Marketing Your Church, Is That Wrong?

Barbara Carneiro - Wednesday, January 30, 2013
When it comes to church marketing, there are numerous opinions, both pro and con as to whether marketing campaigns are in line with Christian teaching. Membership in the mainline church has declined steadily since the 1960s, and many churches do not want to resort to marketing their church because they don’t believe it to be the way to attract new members into their parish. With the decline in membership, some churches simply don’t have the resources for a marketing program. Although this decline still continues within the mainline church, membership in evangelical churches is on the rise. So, is church marketing wrong? It is obviously working for these churches.

Large evangelical churches with pastors who are well known, and those that have several campuses, don’t have a problem attracting new parishioners. There are several reasons for the large membership that continues to grow. One of the most important aspects is that these churches have well designed websites that provide the information that newcomers are looking for. When people are looking for a church home, they want to know what to expect when they attend a service and what the church is doing within the community to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Newcomers to a church want to know what educational programs are available for adults and children and what the church is doing to restore people to unity with God, and to teach people about the gospel message. If a church uses an effective print marketing campaign, it can attract people within different age groups, who are looking for a socially active church. An effective church marketing campaign can use print resources as well as social media to reach the unchurched residents of the community and find out why they don’t attend a local church and what would attract them to become members.

Church marketing is definitely one of the resources that churches should use to bring in new members. Whether a church is large or small, there are resources that can be used to bring visitors back on a regular basis. A church may have cards in the pews for visitors to fill out. They may use postcards to announce special services for Christmas or Easter, or to advertise events that are open to members of the community. Whatever resources a church can use to help spread the word of God within the community, will help to serve the body of Christ.

Why Word Revolution?

- Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Word Revolution exists to help churches, ministries and mission teams around the world with the design and graphic resources needed to spread the word of God and the gospel.

Mission teams often have to generate interest from the non-Christian community in addition to the support they get from their congregations, to get the funding they need for their ministries. Organizations that are set up for the purpose of fundraising for mission work have to get creative when it comes to raising funds for their projects. When a Christian organization is raising money for their group, it's important that a lot of research goes into organizing the project in a way that will benefit the most people and raise the most funds for your mission team.

One way in which to generate interest in your project is to have someone familiar with the issue and the conditions in the area you plan to raise funds for, come and speak to your congregation. For example, if your goal is to raise funds to benefit children in an orphanage in Mexico, arrange for a speaker who is knowledgeable about what the children's biggest needs are. It makes a much bigger impact on people when a speaker can talk about the specific needs in an impoverished area are. One event you could plan is a Mexican fiesta to raise the money you need. Themed events are popular ways for people to get together and have a good time while providing funding for your organization. This is a good time to have printed materials available for potential donors to learn more about your organization.

You could also organize an event to coincide with the Christmas holidays. This type of fundraiser is usually very productive, whether it's for a Christian cause or not. People love attending fun events around the holidays. A good way to attract the attention of the general public is to let them know what the end result of the fundraiser will be. Your goal could be to build homes for underprivileged people or to make available a center for a youth group that would be open to all teens in the community. This will get the attention of members of other churches, and the business and educational community.

The essential thing to keep in mind when you are searching for ways to have a successful Christian fundraiser, is that even though there are a lot of ways to raise funds for your church, ministry, or mission, not all of them are feasible for every group. What you must keep in mind when planning a fundraiser is how quickly you will be able to raise the funds, how easy it will be to reach your goal, and how profitable it will be. This is why you should work with a company who is experienced in Christian fundraising, and can institute a plan that will fit the needs of your group.

It is essential for any church or mission team to have an internet presence, not only to keep your congregation informed your upcoming schedule and to attract visitors to your church, but to get your message out to the Christian and business community about fundraising projects and events. Logo design, business card design, letterheads, or envelopes will help to establish your identity. Brochures, postcards, banners, or magnets effectively advertise your church, ministry, or mission group. Your website, mobile apps, online store, and custom applications will establish your identity online, and we can assist you with any specific need. We strive to offer the best prices for the high quality that we are proud to provide for each of our clients.

Tips on How to Promote Your Ministry

Barbara Carneiro - Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The digital age has prompted churches and ministries to change the way they attract new members. Today, churches, just like businesses, have to be marketed. This is especially true if you want to acquire sponsorships for your ministry activities. Pastors and lay ministers not only have to pray for members, but have to create meaningful experiences for members and visitors so they keep returning to the church and get involved in church activities. If your members are excited about their church and are involved in the ministries within the church, they are more likely to invite friends and family to join you at a service. There are some effective steps to take when you need to acquire sponsorships for your mission programs.

  1. Create a blog for your ministry. Blogging is easy to do and is the way for potential sponsors to find you in the search engines. By allowing members and visitors to the blog to add their comments, you will have feedback on what is working and what needs to improve. 
  2.  Email a monthly newsletter along with your ministry schedule for the upcoming month. Include an uplifting message from your pastor. For example, the message could be something about the 4 weeks in Advent before Christmas. A lot of churches include the schedule of services and special events for the month.
  3.  Plan on giving out a monthly award to a member of the church or an outstanding community member and get the media involved. People love positive news and it may encourage community members who own businesses and could become sponsors, to get involved. 
  4.  Create colorful postcards for members to hand out to friends. You can do a community mailing, but when a postcard is handed in person to a friend, it becomes more personal and encourages that person to visit your church. 
  5.  Attend a marketing conference especially geared toward churches. Better yet, sponsor the conference at your church. This will encourage ministries in the community to work together.
  6. Provide copies of sermons along with your newsletter to be placed in areas of the church where visitors and potential sponsors have access to them. You should always have an available supply of marketing materials about your church and ministries available. 
  7.  Social media should always be used by churches, especially when you are seeking sponsorships to build missionary activities within your church. Create a custom Twitter background and create a page on Facebook. If you are engaged in mission work, your friends and friends of friends can “like” your page and share with others. Going viral is one of the most effective ways to promote your ministry.

How High Profile Guest Speakers Can Help Develop Your Christian Ministry

Barbara Carneiro - Tuesday, January 29, 2013

When you are building your ministry, one of the best ways to increase awareness of your ministry is by hosting a conference with high profile guest speakers. Millions of people worldwide have watched Christian evangelists who preach on TV but don’t have the opportunity to hear them speak in person. There are a number of positive benefits to inviting motivational speakers to participate in a conference held at your church.

  1.  When you promote a special event that high profile guest speakers will participate in, it’s a good incentive for church members to invite their friends. Sometimes people invite co-workers to visit their church, but a lot of people feel uncomfortable going to a church they aren’t familiar with. If a guest speaker is doing a presentation about a topic of interest to co-workers, they are more likely to attend. 

  2. When you have invited guests to your church who always find an excuse for not attending, if you are having a guest speaker, there is only one opportunity to hear that person speak. 

  3. When a guest speaker will be present at your conference, a good way to encourage bigger attendance is to inquire of your members who they have invited to hear the speaker. This will motivate members to invite family or friends. 

  4. This is a good opportunity to recruit members to take on added responsibilities at church in preparation for the conference and guest speakers. Once people have taken on responsibilities at church, they are likely to continue. 

  5. Inviting a guest speaker can motivate members of your church to learn something new by taking part in an ongoing educational program centered around the speaker’s presentation.

  6.  If you have members who have not been attending church in quite some time, having a high profile speaker can encourage them to return to church and take part in ongoing activities. 

  7.  Members of your congregation will have a new respect for you when you provide the opportunity for them to hear someone they admire speak in person. 

  8.  If you plan to have special events throughout the year with guest speakers, it can encourage people in the community to visit your church for these events, especially if the topics are important issues. 

  9.  In addition to high profile speakers, you could schedule events for Christian musicians to perform at your church. Some churches schedule a lunch or dinner provided by members of the church with a musical program. These events usually attract members of the community who don’t usually attend your church.

The Fundraising Ideas for Your Mission Team

Barbara Carneiro - Monday, January 28, 2013
Anyone who is a member of a church knows how difficult it is to come up with effective fundraising ideas for a mission team. Most churches have limited resources when it comes to raising funds for mission projects and education for adults and children. In most cases, fundraisers are the primary source of income for Christian congregations. There are a number of reasons that Christian fundraising projects are undertaken by mission teams. The group may sponsor fundraising projects to help to fund Vacation Bible School and to help students who are unable to afford the tuition or teaching materials. Some fundraisers are undertaken to help fund annual mission trips by members of the congregation.

Some Christian groups have found that the best way to raise funds for mission trips is to hold a fundraiser at their church. Some of the more common fundraising ideas are bake sales, spaghetti suppers, or chore auctions in which people in the community bid on chores that members of the group are willing to undertake to raise funds. Additional ways to raise funds is to have sales following the Sunday service. Members of the congregation could provide handcrafted jewelry and other items to be sold with the proceeds going to the group. Another good idea is to have local merchants contribute items to be put in gift baskets and raffled off. Many mission teams make homemade chili to sell on Super Bowl weekend.

Some churches with large congregations have an annual autumn or Christmas fair to raise funds for church projects and outreach in the community. Some churches that have Christmas fairs have special events such as luncheons, dinners, and even auctions with items or services donated by church members and merchants in the community. By planning all these activities during the weekend of the fair, many churches have been able to have funding for mission projects provided within a short period of time.

When a mission trip is not feasible, there are still ways for mission teams to be good Christian examples and to reach out to the community. One of the projects the team could undertake is to offer to help local residents with home repairs or chores that they don’t have the money to pay contractors for. In some cases, corporate sponsors may provide funding or materials to assist with the project. Whatever a mission team undertakes to raise funds, the event should be well publicized in advance with an effective Christian marketing campaign.

What does worship mean to you?

Barbara Carneiro - Saturday, January 26, 2013
What does worship mean to you? There are various forms of worship among Christians. Worship may be focused on Scriptural teaching, it may be charismatic, or liturgical. The concept of worship here is not to focus on a theological or technical definition of worship, but what the concept of worship means to you as a Christian. What is important is the image that forms in your mind when you think of worshipping God. No one form of worship is superior to others, but all good worship brings us closer to God and gives us a sense of peace.

You may think of the Sunday morning service at your church when you think of worship, but the image that comes into your mind may be of a Bible study at the home of someone in the congregation. It could be the image of a service when you are praising God through music or a time to pray for anyone who needs physical or spiritual healing. All of these are good examples of worshipping God, but it should not end there.

A lot of people limit what their understanding of worship really is and that is something we should never do. If you put time limits on worship, you will be worshipping according to a schedule, not according to the will of God. In John 4:21-23 Jesus said it very well when he said “Believe me, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father here or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know so little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming and is already here when true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for anyone who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit , so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth."

In Leviticus 6:13, the Bible says “Remember, the fire must be kept burning on the altar at all times, it must never go out.” Simply stated, this means that there is not a beginning or end with God, and there should not be an end to our worship of God. It is possible to worship God, and we should worship him throughout the day. When you wake up in the morning and before you go to sleep at night, spend time talking with God. Talk to him as you would a friend and tell him what’s on your mind. You can worship at work by praying for god to guide you in your daily work or by praying for a friend going through a difficult time. When this becomes part of your daily life, you will grow in your understanding of worship.

Do You Want to Be a Disciple Maker? Here are some first steps…

Barbara Carneiro - Wednesday, January 23, 2013
Anyone who wants to be a disciple maker is willing to invest time helping another person with their spiritual journey. Discipleship is the practice of following Christ in simple obedience. So, how do you do this? How do you begin a discipling relationship? One thing to keep in mind when you want to be a disciple maker is that it is important to meet seekers and inquirers where they are. Everyone has different backgrounds and spiritual experiences. Some people may be coming out of a bad church environment, Some may be switching to a different Christian tradition, and some may have no religious background at all.

Your potential disciple should be a person who desperately wants to become like Christ. When a person has a strong desire to grow spiritually, their spirit is much more open and receptive to what you have to say. When a person is in a desperate situation, they look for someone who is willing to spend the time helping them to find a better place spiritually. If you try to spend a lot of time with someone who does not desperately need Christ, they are going to be more resistant.

I have experienced this personally. A long-time friend of mine stopped going to church years ago, and has a lot of anger issues. She already has dropped contact with another friend who started signing her emails “Yours in Christ.” A wonderful sentiment as far as I’m concerned, but my friend felt it was heavy handed. She has told me that she is not a “project that needs saving.” All you can do is pray for someone like that.

After you have found the person who is willing to make a commitment to Christ, decide on how often you will get together. It may be for private Bible study, or they may be receptive to going to church with you, but make sure you stay in contact to see how they are progressing, and be willing to answer their questions, especially if they have come out of a toxic church. People in that situation are very disillusioned. Transmit truth, mission, and relationships to the person ready to receive Christ.

The new disciple will learn divine truth by reading Scriptures and listening for the Spirit of God to speak to them. A safe and open environment allows people to listen for God to speak to them. When people are in a setting like this, they will foster trusting relationships with other Christians. When they trust, they confess their sins and struggles they are facing. Mission is about reproducing the relationship with the new disciple and involving others. Reading Scripture, confessing sins and overcoming struggles, and praying for those who are lost are what makes a disciple maker.

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